Saturday, April 30, 2011

How Long Will Pennsylvania Hate Group Hold Back The State's Progress?

While Venango County-based hate group, the American "Family" Association of Pennsylvania, continues to pump out propaganda targeting and demonizing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people ...

"Business Leaders Urge Albany to Legalize Gay Marriage in New York"

from The New York Times:

Two dozen high-profile New York business leaders plan to release an open letter on Friday urging state lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage, arguing that the measure would help companies attract and retain employees.

The letter’s release comes as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and gay rights advocates prepare what they say will be a major push to pass legislation this spring that would make New York the sixth state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed. The letter’s signers, from the legal, financial and real estate worlds, include Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs; Jerry I. Speyer, chairman of Tishman Speyer Properties; and Paul E. Singer, a prominent hedge fund executive.

“In an age where talent determines the economic winners, great states and cities must demonstrate a commitment to creating an open, healthy and equitable environment in which to live and work,” the letter reads. “As other states, cities and countries across the world extend marriage rights regardless of sexual orientation, it will become increasingly difficult to recruit the best talent if New York cannot offer the same benefits and protection.”

The letter reflects efforts by gay rights advocates to broaden their coalition after an embarrassing defeat in Albany, where a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage lost in the State Senate in 2009. This year, advocates are focusing on a few Democrats and Republicans who are thought to be open to switching their votes.

Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, an influential business group, said she hoped the letter would “provide an opportunity for legislators who may not have heard the voice of business to feel that they’ve got some cover to rethink their position on this issue.” Ms. Wylde helped collect signatures for the letter at the urging of Christine C. Quinn, the speaker of the City Council, who has been lobbying the Legislature to approve a bill.

In an interview, Ms. Quinn said, “I knew there was support out there, yet when you talked and did lobbying in Albany, there was no way to show that to people.”

One prominent supporter, John J. Mack, the chairman of Morgan Stanley, said that he believed legalizing same-sex marriage would help attract more talent to New York, but that he saw the issue chiefly as one of fairness. “It’s that simple,” Mr. Mack said. “I grew up in North Carolina. I’m 66 years old. I grew up when there was segregation. It makes an impression on you.”

Some of the executives who signed the letter are well known in political circles, including Alan J. Patricof, a venture capitalist and major Democratic donor, Mr. Mack and Mr. Singer, who is active in Republican politics. Others venture more rarely into the political spotlight, including the corporate lawyer Martin Lipton.

Some of the business leaders are close to the Senate Republican caucus, which voted unanimously against the marriage bill two years ago. Mr. Speyer, for example, is an influential voice among the city’s real estate developers, whose financial support was decisive in helping Republicans take control of the Senate in the election last fall.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Venango County Man Faces Trial on Sexual Assaults on 6- and 10-year Old Girls

from The Oil City Derrick:

A 66-year-old Oil City man was ordered held for court Wednesday on charges he sexually assaulted 6- and 10-year-old girls in a downtown apartment complex.

Walter McCauley, was bound over for trial following his preliminary hearing before District Judge Douglas Dinberg in Venango County court.

Oil City police accused McCauley earlier this month of allegedly performing sexual acts on the girls and making them perform acts on him at his apartment in Seneca Court.

McCauley faces 13 felony charges including counts of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and endangering the welfare of a child — and 10 misdemeanors, according to court documents.

According to a criminal complaint, one of the girls described the assaults to Venango County Children and Youth Services (CYS) workers.

McCauley later allegedly admitted to police and CYS workers he performed sex acts on one of the girls, and exposed himself to the second girl and made her expose herself to him on one occasion, the papers said.

He was placed in Venango County jail on $50,000 bail, according to court documents.

A preliminary hearing was continued Wednesday for another Oil City man accused of sex crimes involving minors, court papers said.

Oil City police accused Juan Jose Gonzales of exposing himself to at least two young girls and sexually assaulting another then fleeing to Florida.

Gonzales was arrested earlier this month in Florida and was transported to Venango County jail, where he remains on $100,000 bail, police said.

His hearing is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 4.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Former Venango County Minister Arrested for Propositioning Teen Girl

Police say substitute teacher met his prey on Internet

from The Oil City Derrick:

A former state trooper and minister working as a substitute teacher in Venango County is charged with sexually propositioning what he believed was a 13-year-old girl he met on the Internet.

Agents with the state attorney general’s office on Monday arrested Lawrence W. McElroy, 61, of Cooperstown, after he traveled to the Pittsburgh area to allegedly meet the “girl” for sex.

The attorney general’s office said McElroy, a retired state police sergeant, was actually talking with an undercover agent posing as the “girl.”

Agents arrested McElroy Monday after he arrived in Canonsburg, Washington County, where he had allegedly arranged to meet the girl for sex — believing she did not have school because of an extended Easter vacation.

McElroy, who has substituted in the four Venango County public school districts, is accused of trying to call the girl three times from Franklin High School.

In addition to phone calls, he is accused of engaging in a series graphic Internet chats with the girl and transmitting a nude webcam video of himself.

McElroy, an East Brady native, was charged with five felony counts and was placed in Washington County jail on $250,000 bond.

A 20-year veteran of the force, McElroy joined the state police in January 1973. In January 1992, then a sergeant, he was named station commander of the state police Shippenville barracks in Clarion County.

He retired as a member of the Tionesta barracks in Forest County little more than a year later in March 1993.

After his retirement, McElroy served as a minister with three churches — one in Clarion County — associated with Kiskimineta Presbytery in Armstrong County.

From March 1992 to December 1995, he was a minister at Oakwood Presbyterian Church in New Bethlehem, said Wayne Yost, the general presbyter of Kiskimineta.

Yost said McElroy served at separate churches in Armstrong County until 1999, when “removed himself” from the ministry.

McElroy has been a substitute teacher with several Venango County school districts since 2000, when he started as a guest teacher.

Guest teachers are nonteachers with college degrees who obtain emergency certification so they can substitute when the list of regular substitutes is exhausted.

In 2001, McElroy received his certification as a social studies teacher for grades seven to 12, according to Franklin district officials.

As with all school employees, substitutes must obtain clearances indicating they have not been convicted of a serious crime involving a child.

Franklin superintendent Ronald Paranick said McElroy’s clearances have been on file since 2000. He added the district has not received complains about McElroy.

McElroy allegedly made three calls from the high school to the special agent posing as the girl.

“If he was subbing at the high school, we don’t prevent anyone (employees) from using the phone at lunch or (on break),” Paranick said.

Following the news of his arrest, McElroy was removed from the district’s list of substitutes, Paranick said.

Valley Grove officials said McElroy served as a substitute for one day in February 2001. He had been on guest teacher lists at Cranberry and Oil City, though officials at both schools said he would be removed.

According to a criminal complaint, McElroy used an Internet chat room to approach the “girl” April 5.

He used the screen name “iamtheone7890.” His name changed to “law mcelroy” when the agent added him to her “buddy list,” the complaint said.

McElroy allegedly began a graphic conversation with the girl — asking about her sexual experience and later encouraging her to delete the transcript “so mom doesn’t find it.”

In conversations during the next several days, McElroy allegedly expressed his desire to meet the girl for sex, told her he “loves her,” and explained in extensive detail the sex acts he wished to perform with her, the complaint said.

Following his arrest, agents searched McElroy’s vehicle, locating gifts he promised the girl, including a silver necklace and a new computer webcam. They also found a prescription pill bottle containing Viagra along with lubricant, the attorney general’s office said.

Additionally, agents searched McElroy’s home, seizing a computer and webcam, which will be analyzed as part of an ongoing investigation, officials said.

McElroy is charged with counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to sexual offenses) and criminal attempted unlawful contact with a minor (related to sexual offenses), both first-degree felonies that are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $ 25,000 fines.

He is also charged with two counts of unlawful contact with a minor (related to obscene and sexual materials and performances) and one count of criminal use of a communication facility, all third-degree felonies that are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hateful Connections

Is there really much distance between this:

And this?

Transgender Woman Brutally Attacked - the attackers claimed that the victim was "a man dressed like a woman in the bathroom"

A McDonald’s worker has taken credit for filming and uploading to YouTube the latest viral video to capture a brutal assault at a fast food restaurant.

The employee, identified as Vernon Hackett on social network accounts, posted the video clip to his YouTube page earlier this week. According to his Facebook page, the 22-year-old Hackett, pictured at right, has worked for McDonald's since September 2009 .

The April 18 assault, seen below, took place at a McDonald’s location on Kenwood Avenue in Rosedale, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb. According to the Baltimore County Police Department, a 14-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile in connection with the assault, while charges are pending against an 18-year-old woman. “The incident remains under investigation and the State’s Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case,” added investigators.

Police said the assault victim "appeared to be having a seizure" when officers arrived at the McDonald's at around 8 PM. The victim suffered cuts to the mouth and face during the attack and was transported by medics to Franklin Square Hospital for treatment, according to a police report.

The police report identifies the victim as 22-year-old Chrissy Lee Polis, who appears identical to Christopher Lee Polis, whose rap sheet includes convictions for disorderly conduct, property destruction, and prostitution, according to court records. The civil rights group Equality Maryland has identified the McDonald’s victim as a transgender woman.

Polis told police that she was walking to the restaurant’s bathroom when she “got into a verbal argument with two black females” who “began punching her in the face with their fists and pulling her hair.” A female bystander told cops that when she tried to break up the fight, the suspects punched her in the face, which “caused her to become disoriented.” Police noted that the woman, who declined medical treatment, had “redness around her right eye which is consistent with someone punching her in the face.”

A manager at the Rosedale McDonald’s said she was “not allowed to speak to a reporter." In a corporate statement this afternoon, McDonald’s said it was “shocked by the video from a Baltimore franchise,” and called the incident “unacceptable, disturbing and troubling.” The firm added, “We are working with the franchisee and the local authorities to investigate this matter.”

As seen above, in a Facebook posting, Hackett contended that the woman seen getting beaten in the video was actually a man "dressed like a woman" who got into a confrontation with female patrons when he refused to leave the women’s bathroom at the Baltimore-area eatery. Hackett claimed that the victim faked a seizure and, when cops arrived at the restaurant, “he got right up.”

In other Facebook messages sent Friday by Hackett (see below), he acknowledged filming the fight, denied the victim was transgendered, and claimed he had “No Hate For Anybody…No Matter Tha Gender/Race Or Sexual Preference.” Hackett exchanged messages with Facebook users who wrote him to express anger about the video and his gleeful play-by-play.

Hackett did not reply to TSG messages sent to his Twitter and Facebook pages, which he subsequently deleted late this morning. He also has deleted his YouTube channel.

See Video of Beating HERE


Friday, April 22, 2011

Butler PFLAG Serves As A Model of Organizing for Change in Western Pennsylvania

Interview of Butler PFLAG's Joe Tomlinson by Nayck Feliz of the Pennsylvania Prevention Project:

Butler PFLAG is committed to engaging our community around issues which are important to GLBTQI/A Butler County Pennsylvanians, to support one another as we learn to live openly and freely, and to educate those who wish to understand our work and the lives of sexual/gender minority Butler County citizens.

At present, we are working to provide "Safe Schools" training for the staff and faculty of the Butler Area School District. We are also integrally involved with the "Community Safe School Project" of Persad Center in Pittsburgh.

All are welcome to join in our meetings and to become part of our work.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Gay Marriage Revolution Started Centuries Ago

Despite The Lies of Venango County-based Hate Group (American 'Family' Association of Pennsylvania), The Gay Marriage Revolution Started Centuries Ago

by James Peron for The Huffington Post:

It is widely claimed by the Religious Right that marriage is a "religious institution," not a civil matter. The facts, unfortunately, are not so simple. State control of marriage is much older than people think and Christianity never spoke with one voice regarding marriage.

The fourth century Christian emperor Theodosius, as part of what historian John Boswell called a campaign of "greater and greater totalitarian control over personal aspects of Romans' lives," decreed that only Christianity would be allowed to exist. He also banned gay marriage. Boswell wrote: "The increasingly theocratic despotism of the later Empire often led to intervention in matters such as personal religious convictions or private sexual expression which would have been considered entirely individual under the earlier emperors."

The Church got involved only after this intervention on its behalf. Christian law professor Daniel Crane wrote that, "as the power of the church grew, it gradually sought to establish control over marriage directly." But it was only in 1546 that the Roman Catholic Church declared that a marriage was only valid if performed by a priest, with two witnesses. Even this was more a slap at the Reformationists and a means of "wedding" believers to the Roman Church. The idea that marriage was a "sacrament" had more to do with the politics of the day than it did with theology.

The Protestants denied marriage as a sacrament entirely. Crane wrote that Reformationists saw the state, not the church, as the prime custodian "of matrimony as a civil institution." The authoritarian John Calvin passed the "Marriage Ordinance of Geneva" requiring a state permit to marry.

The other leading Protestant of the day, Martin Luther, wrote: "[S]ince marriage has existed from the beginning of the world and is still found among unbelievers, there is no reason why it should be called a sacrament of the New Law and of the church alone." Within a few decades, most of Christian Europe had laws regulating marriage as a state institution. Contrary to the claims of the religious right, the State did not take marriage away from the Church.

This cozy relationship between church and state remained undisturbed until the rise of classical liberalism, with its libertarian sentiments about individual rights. Evangelical author John Witte argues this began with John Locke's Two Treatises on Government (1698) where Locke "suggested that a natural and contractual perspective could be defended without necessary reference to spiritual or social perspectives on marriage. He had hypothesized that a law of marriage based on contract could be valid even if God were not viewed as the founder of the marriage contract, nor His Church engaged as an agent in its governance."

Classical liberalism became a major influence in Western culture, leading to the abolition of slavery, the rise in the status of women, demonopolizing of agriculture from landed elites, free trade and to the emergence of capitalism itself. It also brought new ideas about marriage into the legal system. Prof. Witte argues that the liberal reforms embedded two conflicting views of marriage into law, "one rooted in Christianity, a second in the Enlightenment. Each of these traditions has contributed a variety of familiar legal ideas and institutions--some overlapping, some conflicting."

Catholics saw marriage as a church sacrament. Protestants said it was a relationship between a couple and the wider community, and thus more a political concern than a religious one. Witte wrote, "Enlightenment exponents emphasize[d] the contractual (or private) perspective."

Marriage laws, he said, changed drastically as a result:

Exponents of the Enlightenment advocated the abolition of much that was considered sound and sacred in the Western legal tradition of marriage. They urged the abolition of the requirements of parental consent, church consecration, and formal witnesses for marriage. They questioned the exalted status of heterosexual monogamy, suggesting that such matters be left to private negotiation. They called for the absolute equality of husband and wife to receive, hold, and alienate property, to enter into contracts and commerce, to participate on equal terms in the workplace and public square. They castigated the state for leaving annulment practice to the church, and urged that the laws of annulment and divorce be both merged and expanded under exclusive state jurisdiction.

The rise of classical liberalism, with its companion, capitalism, meant that income was no longer a function of the family as whole. Sociologist Barry Adams, in Christopher Street, observed: "Capitalism laid the groundwork for voluntary relationships based on personal preference, the precondition for 'romantic love.' Capitalism did not cause romantic love, it allowed it to flourish." Historians John D'Emilio and Estelle Freedman (Intimate Matters) wrote that these changes meant that marriages could be chosen "with less attention to property and family considerations" and that "some young people even disregarded parental opinion altogether. Operating within a political climate that decried tyranny and exulted the rights of the individual some children married over parental objections while others failed to inform their parents at all."

Of course, these shifts in the economic structure, and the emergence of a culture of individual rights, had dramatic impact on gay and lesbian people. Prof. Steve Horwitz wrote: "This created both the "singles culture" of the 20th century but also enabled homosexuals to adopt the full identity of being gay or lesbian, as opposed to just engaging in homosexual acts. It's no surprise that gay/lesbian culture thrived early on in urbanized environments (industrial jobs and anonymity were the keys). Having made modern gay identity possible and having caused marriage and family to be focused on love and consumption, rather than child-making and child-raising complementarities, is it any surprise that gays and lesbians would want 'in' to the institution of marriage?"

Oddly, modern conservatives see themselves as the heirs of the classical liberal/capitalist tradition. Yet that tradition is responsible for the evolution of marriage over the last few centuries. What modern conservatives are witnessing in the gay marriage revolution is just another logical step toward implementing the values of classical liberalism, with its emphasis on private contract and individual rights. Like it or not, it is the premises that they claim they share with classical liberals that have brought us to where we are today. I for one think that a good thing, even if conservatives don't.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Teens — Gay or Straight — More Likely to Attempt Suicide in Conservative Towns

Major Study of Oregon High Schoolers Probes Teen Mental Health and Social Climates

By Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer:

CHICAGO — Suicide attempts by gay teens — and even straight kids — are more common in politically conservative areas where schools don't have programs supporting gay rights, a study involving nearly 32,000 high school students found.

Those factors raised the odds and were a substantial influence on suicide attempts even when known risk contributors like depression and being bullied were considered, said study author Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Columbia University psychologist and researcher.

His study found a higher rate of suicide attempts even among kids who weren't bullied or depressed when they lived in counties less supportive of gays and with relatively few Democrats. A high proportion of Democrats was a measure used as a proxy for a more liberal environment.

The research focused only on the state of Oregon and created a social index to assess which outside factors might contribute to suicidal tendencies. Other teen health experts called it a powerful, novel way to evaluate a tragic social problem.

"Is it surprising? No. Is it important? Yes," said Dr. Robert Blum of Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study "takes our relatively superficial knowledge and provides a bit more depth. Clearly, we need lots more understanding, but this is very much a step in the right direction," he said.

Blum serves on an Institute of Medicine committee that recently released a report urging more research on gay health issues. Blum said the new study is the kind of research the institute believes has been lacking. The independent group advises the government on health matters.

The new study was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Previous research has found disproportionately high suicide rates in gay teens. One highly publicized case involved a Rutgers University freshman who jumped off a bridge last year after classmates recorded and broadcast the 18-year-old having sex with a man.

The study relied on teens' self-reporting suicide attempts within the previous year. Roughly 20 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual teens said they had made an attempt, versus 4 percent of straight kids.

The study's social index rated counties on five measures: prevalence of same-sex couples; registered Democratic voters; liberal views; schools with gay-straight alliances; schools with policies against bullying gay students; and schools with anti-discrimination policies that included sexual orientation.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens living in counties with the lowest social index scores were 20 percent more likely to have attempted suicide than gays in counties with the highest index scores. Overall, about 25 percent of gay teens in low-scoring counties had attempted suicide, versus 20 percent of gay teens in high-scoring counties.

Among straight teens, suicide attempts were 9 percent more common in low-scoring counties. There were 1,584 total suicide attempts — 304 of those among gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Hatzenbuehler said the results show that "environments that are good for gay youth are also healthy for heterosexual youth."

The study is based on 2006-08 surveys of 11th-graders that state health officials conducted in Oregon classrooms; Oregon voter registration statistics; Census data on same-sex couples; and public school policies on gays and bullying.

The researchers assessed proportions of Democrats versus Republicans; there were relatively few Independents. Information on non-voters wasn't examined.

Zachary Toomay, a high school senior from Arroyo Grande, Calif., said the study "seems not only plausible, but it's true."

The star swimmer, 18, lives in a conservative, mostly Republican county. He's active in his school's gay-straight alliance, and said he'd never been depressed until last year when classmates "ostracized" him for being vocal about gay rights.

Toomay said signs of community intolerance, including bumper stickers opposing same-sex marriage, also made him feel down, and he sought guidance from a school counselor after contemplating suicide.

Funding for the study came from the National Institutes for Health and a center for gay research at the Fenway Institute, an independent Harvard-affiliated health care and research center.

Michael Resnick, a professor of adolescent mental health at the University of Minnesota's medical school, said the study "certainly affirms what we've come to understand about children and youth in general.

"They are both subtly and profoundly affected by what goes around them," he said, including the social climate and perceived support.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Lies of Religious Extremists

from Truth Wins Out:

Marc Mutty, who ran Yes on 1 in Maine, will be featured in a documentary later this year on the campaign to repeal marriage in that state, and in the trailer, he’s on camera admitting what we all already know — they lied in their campaign. They always lie:

“We use a lot of hyperbole and I think that’s always dangerous,” says Mutty during a Yes on 1 strategy session, at the time on leave from his job as public affairs director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine.

“You know, we say things like ‘Teachers will be forced to (teach same-sex marriage in schools)!’ ” he continues. “Well, that’s not a completely accurate statement and we all know it isn’t, you know?”

“No,” interjects a woman off-camera. “We don’t say that.”

“Let’s look back at our ads and see what we say,” Mutty persists. “And I think we use hyperbole to the point where, you know, it’s like ‘Geez!’ “

Indeed! I would go so far as to say that not only Mutty, but the entire Religious Right, flat makes sh*t up, their hatred of gay people runs so deep. More than that, they seem to know that facts are not on their side:

“I know we need to do what we have to do — not only slam people over the head with a two-by-four, but a two-by-four with nails sticking out of it,” he says. “And it’s nuts … unfortunately, I think it’s a lousy approach. But it’s the only thing we’ve got — it’s the only way. That’s the way campaigns work.”

Well, like I said, we already know they’re liars, but it’s refreshing to see one of them admit it, and perhaps, it seems from the article, feel a little bit of remorse over it. Like any good Christian, though, Mutty’s biggest regret is that he was caught on camera saying potty words, because, as we all know, potty words are worse than lying about an entire class of people in order to deny them and their families constitutional rights.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Breaking Free from the American Family Association's Campaign of Hate

This powerful letter was posted on the web page of OUT IN THE SILENCE, a documentary film about the struggle for inclusion, fairness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and all people. The film's stories take place in Venango County, which is also home to the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, a radical right extremist organization recently designated as a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

by PM, a resident of a small Mississippi town:

I am writing to tell you a little about my story.

I was a conservative Christian. I was also an avid listener of American Family Radio, an operation of the American Family Association.

I responded to all the 'action alerts' they sent out. I believed everything they said.

I was in a very bad marriage. There was abuse towards me, then I found out he had been sexually abusing my daughters. Only then did I have the courage to leave him.

My girls are doing well now, and he is in prison.

After I was finally away from him, I began to think for myself. I began to question all my beliefs.

I am still a Christian, but I no longer judge.

To me, its about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Its not about organized religion.

I believe God created everyone, and loves everyone. No one is better then anyone else.

When I watched OUT IN THE SILENCE, I cried.

I knew that the LGBT community was being persecuted, but you really put a personal face to some of the people. That really touched me in a way I never expected.

I feel that even in whatever small way I can, I want to fight this.

My daughter is bisexual. She is such an amazing person and an inspiration to me.

Without my change of heart, she might never have came out to me. We wouldn't have the wonderful relationship that we do have.

I can't help but wonder how many kids have parents that they are afraid to come out to for fear of being rejected. I feel like maybe coming from the place I am, a former American Family Radio listener and conservative Christian that maybe I could reach people like this. I know their thinking. They are being brainwashed in my opinion.

I say all this to say that whatever way I might be able to help, big or small, you can count on me. Small town Mississippi is somewhere that is seriously needing to have the light of this documentary shined on it. It was made for such a place. You would not believe how judgmental the home of American Family Association is. I live about 20 miles from Tupelo. I thank you and look forward to helping in any way I can.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Oil City Man Charged In Sexual Assault On Girls

Police say Walter McCauley, 66, allegedly performed sexual acts on a 6- and 10-year-old.

from The Derrick:

A 66-year-old Oil City man was charged Monday with sexually assaulting 6- and 10-year-old girls at a downtown Oil City apartment complex.

Oil City police said Walter McCauley allegedly performed sexual acts on both girls and made them perform acts on him at his home in Seneca Court.

McCauley faces 13 felony charges — including counts of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and endangering the welfare of a child — and 10 misdemeanors, according to court documents.

Police said the charges stem from a month-long investigation into the case.

According to a criminal complaint filed before District Judge Douglas Dinberg, one of the girls described the assaults to Venango County Children and Youth Services (CYS) workers.

McCauley later admitted to police and CYS workers he performed sex acts on one of the girls about four times during the last year at his home in the apartment complex on Seneca Street, according to the complaint.

He also told officials he exposed himself to the second girl and made her expose herself to him on one occasion at the home, the papers said.

McCauley was charged with four felony counts of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault and five felony counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

He was also charged with five misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and corruption of minors, according to court papers.

McCauley was arraigned before Dinberg Monday morning and was placed in Venango County jail on $50,000 bail.

Police said anyone with information on the case or anyone whose children may have had contact with McCauley can contact the Oil City Police Department.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

American 'Family' Association Misuses Religion to Infuse Politics with BIGOTRY

An Iowa Stop in a Broad Effort to Revitalize the Religious Right

By Eric Eckholm for The New York Times, April 2, 2011:

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Hundreds of conservative pastors in Iowa received the enticing invitation. Signed by Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential contender, it invited the pastors and their spouses to an expenses-paid, two-day Pastors’ Policy Briefing at a Sheraton hotel.

Nearly 400 Iowa ministers and many of their spouses accepted, filling a ballroom here on March 24 and 25. Through an evening banquet and long sessions, they heard speakers deplore a secular assault on evangelical Christian verities like the sanctity of male-female marriage, the humanity of the unborn and the divine right to limited government.

The program, sponsored by a temporary entity called the Iowa Renewal Project, featured several superstars of the Christian right as well as four possible Republican contenders for president. It was the latest of dozens of free, two-day conventions in at least 14 states over the past several years, usually with Mr. Huckabee listed as a co-sponsor, that have been attended by nearly 10,000 pastors who have spread the word in their churches and communities.

These meetings are part of a largely quiet drive to revitalize the religious right by drawing evangelical pastors and their flocks more deeply into politics — an effort given new energy by what conservative church leaders see as the ominous creep of laws allowing same-sex marriage and their sense that America is, literally, heading toward hell.

The Iowa pastors heard David Barton, a Christian historian, argue that the country was founded as explicitly Christian and lament that too few evangelicals get out and vote. They heard Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker and like Mr. Huckabee a possible 2012 presidential candidate, say that constitutional liberties like the right to bear arms were ordained by God. They heard how to promote “biblically informed” political advocacy by churchgoers within the confines of federal tax law.

The other possible candidates who spoke were Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

Support from many of the pastors in the audience here helped Mr. Huckabee, an evangelical minister, win the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008. He had been the only candidate to appear at a pastors’ meeting before the Republican caucuses and went on to gain a surprise victory, with 60 percent of the caucus voters describing themselves in exit polls as evangelicals.

This year, many more would-be contenders are making plays for support.

Mr. Huckabee, of course, was warmly welcomed back at the event here as he declared: “We face a spiritual war in this country. Let this weekend be a time when you say, ‘We will not fail, and America will not fall.’ ”

He and the other Republican speakers were careful not to sound too much like candidates in this officially nonpartisan forum, instead emphasizing the threats to conservative Christian values and the need for churches to be engaged. Mr. Gingrich, for one, described the “Rediscovering God in America” films he has made with his wife, Callista, and said America is exceptional because its founding documents enshrine rights “endowed by our creator.”

He told the crowd that it was their Christian duty to fight for the “truth,” exposing threats like overreaching by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama health care law that may put the country “on the road to dictatorship.”

Mr. Barbour pledged relentless opposition to abortion and accused liberals of trying to remove religion from politics. Ms. Bachmann challenged the pastors to “be the voice of freedom.”

The organizer and, to many, the unsung hero of this effort to mobilize pastors is David Lane, a 56-year-old born-again Christian from California.

“What we’re doing with the pastor meetings is spiritual, but the end result is political,” Mr. Lane said in a rare interview, outside the doors of the Iowa meeting. “From my perspective, our country is going to hell because pastors won’t lead from the pulpits.”

Mr. Lane shuns publicity as he crosses the country forming local coalitions under names like Renewal Project and securing outside financing to put on the pastor conferences. Something of a stealth weapon for the right, he has also stepped in to assist in special-issue campaigns, like the successful effort in Iowa last year to unseat three State Supreme Court justices who had voted to allow same-sex marriage.

Mr. Lane first started arranging pastor conferences in Texas and California in the 1990s, but the effort has grown in the last five years. The meetings, which cost many tens of thousands of dollars, have been largely paid for by the Mississippi-based American Family Association, he said.

The association, founded by the Rev. Donald E. Wildmon, is known for its strident condemnation of same-sex marriage and considers homosexuality to be “immoral, unnatural and unhealthy,” said Bryan Fischer, its director of issue analysis. Mr. Fischer said the association was a co-sponsor of the pastor meetings and maintained e-mail contact with 40,000 to 60,000 pastors nationwide, a list that is expanding.

In 2010, Mr. Lane said, he organized pastor meetings in Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as two in Iowa. He expects to revisit some of the same states this year, several of which are important battlegrounds in presidential politics.

Compared with the 1980s, when it was dominated by prominent leaders like the Revs. Jerry Falwell with his Moral Majority and Pat Robertson with the Christian Coalition, the religious right is now decentralized, said Mark DeMoss, who was a close aide to Mr. Falwell.

“But it’s not true to suggest that it’s dead and gone,” he said. Mobilizing pastors has remained important, with “people out there like David Lane, whose names we may not know, who are contributing to a large fabric of involvement,” said Mr. DeMoss, who runs a Georgia public relations company for Christian causes.

The event here was reminiscent of the Christian Coalition’s Road to Victory conventions, which were must-stops for Republican presidential candidates. But with the spread of megachurches emphasizing personal salvation, fewer evangelical pastors than in the 1980s, over all, are deeply involved in politics, said Ralph Reed, who ran the Christian Coalition and is chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

He said it was natural that a movement’s initial phase, with a few charismatic leaders, would give way to one dominated by political operatives.

Mr. Lane and his supporters are hoping to rekindle the force of the church. Addressing the Iowa meeting, Mr. Huckabee lavished praise on Mr. Lane for “bringing pastors together so they go back to their pulpits and light them on fire with enthusiasm, to make America once again the greatest country on earth under God.”

In perhaps no state has the mobilization of churches paid off more than in Iowa, where evangelical Christians now dominate the state Republican Party and presidential caucuses even though their share of the population, one in four, is at the national average.

Republican leaders and pastors call Mr. Lane the unheralded mastermind of the campaign last year to unseat the State Supreme Court justices. The Rev. Jeffrey Mullen, 47, the pastor of Point of Grace Church in Waukee, Iowa, had not been involved politically, he said. But he was jolted by the court’s 2009 decision permitting same-sex marriage, which he called not only morally wrong but also a usurpation of power.

“God used David Lane and his sphere of influence to bring together all the elements” of the campaign to oust the justices, Mr. Mullen said. Mr. Lane secured hundreds of thousands of dollars from the political action committees of Mr. Gingrich and the American Family Association and devised a broad strategy, bringing together the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, which provided voter guides to churches, and the Iowa Family Policy Center, which got 834 ministers to sign a letter stating that marriage was established by God as between a man and a woman.

Beyond presidential politics, the main focus of Iowa conservatives next year, many said, will be taking control of the State Senate, which has blocked their drives for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and stronger anti-abortion laws.

Like all the pastor meetings, the recent one in Iowa was not advertised and was closed to the news media. But the speeches were streamed on the Web site of the American Family Association, and highlights were broadcast online on March 26 to crowds gathered in 177 churches around the country by a California-based group called United in Purpose, which shares the goal of drawing pastors into politics.

Speakers at the conference described what they called the biblical roots of American government and a rich early history of political engagement by the clergy. They exhorted the pastors and their flocks not only to fight harder to have same-sex marriage and abortion banned but also to follow God’s word by opposing activist judges, high taxes, explicit sex education and assaults on private property rights.

A pastor from Louisiana described the political costs of sexual scandals in the church and recommended that pastors avoid temptation by never being alone in a room with women who are not their wives.

The audience heard how to push their flocks to register and vote along “biblical principles” without running afoul of tax laws against endorsing candidates from the pulpit.

The Rev. Michael Demastus, 40, pastor of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, said he was energized: “I came out of there like Seabiscuit out of the gate, ready to do even more.”